Thursday, August 9, 2012

Básico Parade in Sololá

Hey everyone! My name is Ja Lee and I will be one of the new Guate Program Directors for the 2012-2013 year! Just a brief intro about myself: I recently graduated this May from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with degrees in Biology and Spanish. Throughout my time in undergrad, I've participated in various trips to Central/South America and fell in love with such experiences because of the insight that I personally gained about the world and myself in the process. Previously, I was a summer intern with MPI at the Ecuador site in 2010 & led an Alternative Spring Break trip down to the Nica site this past March.

It has been whirlwind of adventures ever since we got down here after orientation mid-July!  I personally feel like it has been longer than 3 weeks because of the amount of knowledge we've gained as well as the personal relationships we've fostered with the members of the community we work in. We're slowly but surely settling into our programmatic roles in the community and finding what works and what doesn't, one step at a time. In the process, we've made some great friends in the community, and the exchange of culture and information from both sides has been an amazing learning experience. One big example of this happened just yesterday!

Last Thursday, Nicole and I stayed behind at the school where we teach in Chaquiyá, to observe one of our co-workers, Lydia, teach Social Studies. We thought it'd be a great idea to see what kind of activities motivate these students to learn and do their assignments. Afterwards, all the teachers (including us) were gathered in the principal's office and were just having light conversations. Out of nowhere, one of the teachers, Clara, casually asked if we wanted to be in a parade with them next week. Without hesitation, both of us expressed a very enthusiastic "Sí!" :) She went on to explain that we would be wearing traditional indigenous Mayan clothes ("Trajes típicos") with symbols from the region of Sololá on it. AND that she would lend it to us! True to her word, she brought in trajes for us to try on this Monday. And on Wednesday, we participated in the parade that represented all the Middle/High schools in the surrounding area of Sololá (which was, A LOT more than I'd anticipated!).

Walking in the Parade with the kids from my school!
Although we had a skirt/belt mishap when we tried to put it on ourselves, our students helped us fix it right before the parade! It was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience and I was very honored that they had asked us to participate. Afterwards, we had soda and cookies with the teachers and saw all the other schools with their individual themes. Overall, awesome day!

Nicole & I after the Desfile on our house balcony
Full shot of the traje tipico!
This whole week has been an exciting one in Sololá as it is celebrating its Feria and each day, seems to have new and more interesting events in store. So far, we've seen a concert, various fireworks displays, parades, & carnival rides. Pretty cool.

We have more posts to come regarding our environmental bottle school project, new programs, & new projects in the works! Stay tuned.


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